What was Found in a 1949 Franciscan Hospital Cornerstone

Paul Keggington

January 17, 2011

Observing the 60th anniversary of the St. Francis Memorial Hospital building, West Point, NE, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Sharon Paul reflects about this historic event and removing the 500 pound granite cornerstone due to present construction.

Franciscan Care Services Mission Director

Franciscan Sister Mary Beth Prinz, current Mission Director of Franciscan Care Services, West Point, NE studies newspaper clippings found in a 1949 St. Francis Hospital cornerstone.

The vision of caring for people in need began in 1905 by Monsignor Ruesing and three of our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity when St. Joseph Home for the Aged opened and, in 1923 annexed a 22 bed emergency hospital. It served the community of West Point, NE for 25 years.

In 1948, Sister Frances Marie Pinion, Superintendent of St. Joseph’s Home Annex, announced plans for a new hospital. On May 2, 1949, groundbreaking ceremonies were held and the hospital’s granite cornerstone was laid on August 21, 1949 and dedication ceremonies began on December 7, 1950. In 1964, the hospital was named St. Francis Memorial Hospital.

Recently the granite cornerstone and copper box weighing 500 pounds was removed due to the present Francisan Care Services construction. Can you guess what was tucked away in this keystone?

Some of the momentos included:

  • old postulant crucifix
  • first communion rosary
  • holy cards, medals, devotional prayers to the Sacred Heart, etc.
  • numerous newspaper clippings from diocesan, as well as West Point community papers
  • listing of the Sisters who served, recognition of church communities and leaders, civic officials
  • listing of  West Point World War II veterans
  • bank statements
  • 1949 fair booklet (yes, this was equally important then as it is now!)
  • recognition of 1949 being worst of winters (this should make us feel better!)
  • 1949 nickel and penny

When the new addition to the West Point hospital is completed in 2012, there will be more items added to the cornerstone. Construction is progressing. We continue to pray for success and safety for the construction crews.

Construction at West Point, NE, Franciscan Care Services

What would you add to a  cornerstone today?

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